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Biodiversity and Natural Environment

Biodiversity refers to the variety of life forms within species, between species and within and between landscapes, ecosystems or the whole planet. Biodiversity can thus be described at the genetic, species or ecosystem level. For both theoretical and practical reasons biodiversity is measured as the number of taxa, and in particular of species. There are approximately 7-12 million species of which circa 1.9 million are described. Biodiversity is under pressure. It is generally assumed that a reduction of biodiversity is undesirable and should be prevented. Is the disappearance of species really undesirable and if so, can we counteract further deterioration of biodiversity?

In order to answer these questions we have to examine in more detail what biodiversity actually represents and how it can be mapped. In addition it is important to study how biodiversity evolved and which are the important processes that determine the level of biodiversity in today’s ecosystems. By analyzing the processes that take place in ecosystems we will investigate how biodiversity is threatened, for example as a result of human intervention or unintentional introduction of invasive species. We shall study how species decline is related to life-history traits. In addition we will investigate the impact of newly introduced species or genes on current biodiversity in the Netherlands.

Human intervention and the introduction of new species do not necessarily have only negative effects on biodiversity. It can also lead to “novel ecosystems” for example in urban and agricultural areas. Species can adapt and be successful in these new habitats. How we should value these new systems is a question of often heated debates. In this minor you will be challenged to take position on these matters.

General information
Size: 30 EC
Language: English
Number of participants: minimum 15, maximum 35
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. P.G.L. Klinkhamer
Information: J.H.J. Gorter, MSc

The minor is open to students with an interest in Biodiversity and Natural Environment. Students can be invited to an initial interview with the coordinator of the minor and may be asked to study selected parts of textbooks before the start of the minor.

The minor is provided by the Bachelor Biology.

Registration: from May 1 until August 15 via uSis.
Enroll by entering the class number (‘studieactiviteit nummer’): 2020

Students from other universities can register by sending an e-mail to J.H.J. Gorter, MSc


Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Evolutionary Developments and Environmental Processes 15
Patterns in Biodiversity 15

More info


  • Patterns in Biodiversity (15 EC)

  • Evolutionary Developments and Environmental Processes (400 15 EC)

The course Patterns in Biodiversity can also be followed as a separate component of 15 EC. To take part in the course Evolutionary Developments and Environmental Processes (15 ECTS) students must have followed the previous course Patterns of Biodiversity (entry requirement).